City leaders fear Trump will financially penalize “sanctuary cities”

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BOSTON — President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign vow to, if elected, strip away federal funding from American cities that participate in so-called “sanctuary” programs for illegal aliens, predictably has city councilors across the commonwealth up in arms.

On Tuesday Boston City Council President Michelle Wu took to social media to point out that the Hub happens to be such a city, noting that a series of sanctuary city protections, which bar police from working with federal immigration authorities,  “unanimously passed” in 2014.

Wu’s announcement conflicts with fellow CIty Councilor Tito Jackson’s statements Monday in which he called on Boston to become a sanctuary city. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Jackson said the city “should lead” and “should not assist or cooperate with mass deportations of immigrants.”

Jackson assumed office in 2011, three years before he and other councilors passed the set of sanctuary city protections. Jackson and other councilors, according to Wu, voted to reaffirm these same policies earlier this year.

Trump has gone on record in his own book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, vowing to strip federal dollars from cities that participate in the program.

“We have to cut off federal grants to sanctuary cities–those places that refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement and actually abet criminal behavior–we have to end them,” Trump wrote. “I repeat, we either are a nation of laws or we’re not.”

Massachusetts boasts a total of eight cities that have adopted sanctuary measures.

In Somerville, Mayor Joseph Curtatone took to Twitter on Election Night as Trump’s victory became apparent to reiterate that the city has no plans of dropping its sanctuary city policies:

Curtatone told the Boston Globe on Monday that Somerville stands to lose about $6 million in federal funding if Trump has his way.

“We are not going to stand voiceless and in silence and let a Gestapo-like atmosphere be cultivated in this nation and come to our communities and break families apart,” he told the newspaper. “That will not be tolerated.”

Meanwhile, according to Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston stands to lose $250 million.

One prominent Bay State Democrat, however, has maintained a different stance when it comes to sanctuary cities. U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, whose sixth district includes Cape Cod and the state’s south coast, said last year in an interview with the New Boston Post that he supports punishing cities that violate federal law by embracing sanctuary policies.

“If cities and states are allowed to flout federal law then the strides we made in civil rights would never have occurred,” Keating said at the time. “Remember, decades ago we had cities that didn’t want to adhere to federal law on that issue.

“Even though I’m for comprehensive immigration reform, and have been, you cannot turn to local officials using their own discretion when it comes to federal law.”